South Arts is committed to making business continuity planning a priority in the arts, and encourages all arts organizations to develop and maintain readiness plans to ensure their sustainability. We have worked since 2006 to increase awareness about the need for readiness planning, and in the years since have developed resources and partners to assist organizations to create and implement plans. We require that applicants to most of our grants programs have a readiness plan in place to be eligible to apply. Other funders, including the National Endowment for the Arts are following suit.
Based on expertise from the arts and planning communities, ArtsReady works from the principle of “all hazards” readiness, since hurricanes, storms and other natural disasters aren’t the only or even the most frequent crises cultural organizations face. We encourage arts leaders to think about the organization’s critical business functions: People, Facilities, Finances, Programs, Communications, IT, Collections and Assets, Community, and Trainings/Drills. (assets, resources, activities, and finances) to find ways to safeguard them—formulating solutions, rather than considering all of the possible problems.
South Arts (then the Southern Arts Federation) began work on a national initiative for preparedness in the arts shortly after the 2005 hurricane season. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, we collected and distributed $200,000 to artists and arts organizations affected by the disaster. However, South Arts quickly realized that arts organizations had either no readiness plans or insufficient readiness plans, a problem that made their organizational comebacks after Katrina/Rita challenging, if not impossible. With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and assistance from the University of California/Berkeley’s IT and Continuity staff and the Mississippi Arts Commission, South Arts began researching business continuity. As a result the ArtsReady initiative was born. We started with a library resource for organizations so they could research and learn about planning. Shortly after, with more support from The Mellon Foundation and guidance from our technology partner, Fractured Atlas, we developed the original online ArtsReady platform; version 1.0 of the ArtsReady platform launched in September 2011. We have presented training workshops and webinars across the country, and have been part of the creation and implementation of the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response, and the Performing Arts Readiness project. ArtsReady has received additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and many state and regional partners. South Arts is currently partnering with the Northeast Document Conservation Center to launch dPlan/ArtsReady 2.0, an updated online planning tool, in 2021.